Habitat for Humanity aims to rebuild Omaha neighborhoods, not just individual homes

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Often, Habitat for Humanity is thought of as a group that builds new homes for community members who need them.

However, the organization is tackling some rundown metro properties and fitting them into the fabric of their neighborhoods.

"We try whenever possible to, when we've acquired a blighted property, to restore it if we can. It maintains the look of the neighborhood, it gives us an opportunity to keep some of those historic features, we try to keep the old wood floors, refinished banisters," development officer with Habitat for Humanity, Megan Thomas said.

She said the organization is building 50 new and renovated properties this year.

Some new builds are side-by-side with renovations, like in an area near 19th and Evans.

"The acquisition of the property is sometimes the hardest part," Thomas said.

She said Habitat for Humanity uses a legal team to find the property owner, then they have to clear the lot.

That involves demolition, fundraising, gather volunteers and matching a new owner to the property.

The process can take years, but Thomas said the end result is worth it.

"They become some of our most beautiful properties. Really creative, cool properties," she said. "We're more than just a home builder, we're a neighborhood builder. So we don't want to be moving homeowners into homes where there are problematic properties all around them."

The organization is looking for volunteers for this year's Omaha Gives program.

Those interested in helping out should contact Habitat for Humanity.